*Technically this is the final part of my post on Responding to Unwelcome Words, but it became something else as well*
Fitful. Fretting. A to do list longer than the hours in my day.
Inner turmoil. Excessive busyness. Too much. I couldn’t focus on anything well, but was determined to get it all done. I saw this attitude sneaking up on me and wholeheartedly embraced it. It felt like a better choice than taking time to be centered in who God is and who I am.
It wasn’t, of course. I was only getting more frustrated. The distractions, even though some were necessary parts of the day, felt better because they were more comfortable than embracing the results of my MRI. What I needed was to pray, to be quiet and still. Then I would be ready, with my husband, to consider where we are as a family and explore options from this point forward.
I actually did need to accomplish everything on the list, but not all in one day. Letting go of my comfortable schedule and taking time to process the reality of our new situation would mean grief again. Tears again. Fully accepting and understanding the truth of why the pregnancies I’ve had in the past few years didn’t work out. After a few years of seeing doctors and searching for answers, we would finally be able to make some decisions with the best possible knowledge of what’s going on with my body.
When my daughter was born by c-section in 2009, the surgeon thought I had a bicorunate uterus. She said it was common and that while carrying more children might be difficult, it was possible with help. I thought at least one more pregnancy would work out, but it hasn’t so far. I’ve seen doctors in two or three countries. No one could figure out what was going on.
Now that we’re settled in Asia again, I have a regular doctor who recommended a fertility specialist. He asked new questions, then ordered an MRI. It turns out I have a uterine anomaly that is, according to the doctor, “very rare.” No surgery can fix it. There are several variations of it and I have one of the most uncommon.
A missing kidney or other renal problems often come with the anomaly since half the uterus and other organs on that side of the body do not fully develop. Many women don’t even know this until serious health issues arise later in life. After a few tests the doctor discovered my kidneys are normal. I’m thankful for that.
About 5% of women have this anomaly. It is accompanied by medical terms like “highest percentage of pregnancy wastages and recurrent miscarriage.” These words are in the information I was given to explain my condition and they are on hundreds of fertility websites. And they hurt my heart when I read them because I know it’s true. It explains so much.
My doctor said that in his profession, one meets someone like me maybe once in a lifetime.
I thought, “So I’m a once in a lifetime kind of person. Wow. Great. Doesn’t feel so positive. Not how someone wants to hear those words.”
He did further study and informed me of important details as he learned them. I looked back on certain moments and finally understood what had happened. As the hopes I had grew increasingly bleak, my gut told me somehow I had always known this would be the case. As someone who not only has a rare uterine anomaly, but also hit the jackpot on recessive genes my parents carried, I began to feel like a mutant or a science experiment. This day was the pinnacle of eight years worth of doctors trying to figure out “what is wrong with me” (my words, not theirs).
I’ve always been able to work hard to overcome challenges and weaknesses. I enjoy accomplishing, achieving, and trying new things. Instead of saying, “I can’t” I usually ask, “Why not?” But this is something I cannot change. I can’t fix it.
All the inner anger and grief, the way my mind screams in rebellion, the insistence that life is not supposed to be this way– won’t change anything. Nevertheless there are times when all those feelings hit me like an oncoming train. From the moment I was conceived, my uterus was set to be this way. I’ve wanted to find out the truth for so long and now I have it. How on earth do I accept this? When I do accept this, what will life be beyond this point? I’m afraid.
Now you know why being busy had this wonderful, numbing effect I was willing to live with indefinitely. But I had to let everything go for a little while and begin to face reality. So I did.
I went to an outdoor garden and restaurant that offers lots of space for private contemplation. Quiet, shaded, with several mist fans cooling the air. Everything surrounding me was alive and green, nurtured by rich soil, sun, and fresh water. Ingredients for the mushroom soup and salad I ordered were pulled from the earth and prepared just for me after I talked with the waitress.
Waiting for lunch in silence, I relaxed into the cushions of my chair, breathing in the flowers growing around me. Jasmine, gardenia, lillies; their perfume was so thick I could taste it. Perfectly sweet, not overpowering. One of my favorite things about this part of Asia.
With my body and senses coaxed, my soul finally exhaled– releasing the to do list and everything else I was grasping so tightly. I let go of every activity I was counting on to make my day productive. Of everything that would make the day “count”– everything I thought would make me count. Of every miscarriage and assumption about the “ideal” family.
I just stopped.
I just let go.
I ate nourishing food from the earth.
I sat silent in nature.
I listened to birds flutter wings, nest, sing, and do everything birds do.
My eyes followed blossom laden tendrils, curling around branches, absorbing nutrients from a vine.
These are things our Creator made. They simply live and enjoy the earth as they were meant to. Fallen from their original state- yes. Affected by sin and the poor choices of people- yes. But still good somehow. Still bearing evidence of intentional design, retaining beauty and purpose.
More exhales. More letting go.
And finally, a few moments of clarity and rest. Acceptance. Remembering.
People are His creation, too.
In His own image– me.
Sin entered our world a long time ago, so I was born from a history of fallen beings. I see the effects in my body and mind every day. I wander from my Father, but He always brings me home.
I’ve been reconciled to my Creator through trusting in His Son, Jesus. I’ve been restored to Him. I am being restored to Him. My unquenchable yearning for something perfect, lasting, and to receive what has been lost, will one day be satisfied. One day I will fully be with my Creator.
In this process of sanctification and waiting, I can still experience beauty and purpose.
I’m unable to understand the mysteries of God and the life He created. Was I born with this rare anomaly because of the effects of sin on humanity? Is my situation God’s design? Or somehow both, in a way I will never be able to understand until I’m with Him?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. I don’t want to know others’ opinions about them. The answers we can only guess at will not change who God is and who I am. If I could have more children or turn back the clock and ensure I didn’t lose my babies, it would be wonderful, but none of it would bring the lasting fulfillment resting in my Creator is meant to bring. What I long for can only come from living securely in the purity and steadfastness of His love. My source of contentment, hope, and wonder will never cease. There will always be greater depths of Him to discover and explore. Unending.
In the meantime, I couldn’t stay in the garden/ restaurant forever, so it had to end. I can’t just stop doing the things in my life.
But when it comes to remembering who I am and the motivation to continue well in my circumstances, my Creator is the only true source.
My story with carrying children is not what I wanted. I would change it if I could. There will always be times when I wonder what could have been if things were different, but I’m also hoping to see opportunities and possibilities in the reality I’m living in. I want to see what God can do when I offer my “rare” anomaly to Him. I know I’ll be with the children I’ve lost some day, but I want to see how God can redeem my situation even now. I refuse to read into anything or create meaning where there is none, but I’m looking expectantly, hoping to see Him bringing beauty, healing, help, and life, because in the only ways I know how, I continue to offer Him everything I am.
However things turn out, I want to love my husband and daughter well. When I was carrying her, I had no idea what highly unlikely circumstances were working together in just the right way so she could be with us. Her name means everything God is making our lives: “Strong and beautiful.”
Thanks for reading!
©2018 Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved
Some more questions I’m asking: Can I thrive in what my life is, in what my Creator has allowed it to be, and let go of what I thought it should be? Freedom and joy could be possible in that. How do I get there? How do I receive and live with abandon in this wonderful gift I already possess? How do I wake up to it and realize I am alive with so many good things?
- This article expresses some feelings I had in the seven years before my daughter was born. I still feel some of these things with miscarriages and recently finding out that more children probably will not be possible: Infertility in the Arms of the Church (Liz Wann) desiringgod.org. It also makes me thankful for friends like Scott & Jessica who always included us in their family events ❤ .
- On this link, I’ve read only one of the books, Bittersweet (Niequist). It’s the only thing I felt like reading for a while after my first miscarriage, but it looks like there may be some other encouraging resources there. Let me know what you think 🙂 http://natashametzler.com/the-best-christian-books-for-infertile-women/
- I also encourage you to study the Scriptures for truth about who you are in Christ. We are fallen. We have sin. But we are His creation, highly valued and worth so much to Him. The way has been made for us to be restored and made new. I find enduring hope in the Scriptures no matter how I’m feeling in the moment.
- What I’m reading now: The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming, (Henri Nouwen).